M3 metric fine thread specs

Written by daniel sutherland
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M3 metric fine thread specs
Selecting a machine screw in fine or coarse thread makes a difference (slotted machine screws image by Tom Oliveira from Fotolia.com)

Metric thread specifications are provided in a format that differs significantly from that used by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for standard thread specifications. M3 metric machine screws are commonly used in computers and other applications. M3 machine screws used in computer cases commonly receive the designation "fine thread," which is a misnomer -- truly "fine thread" 3mm fasteners are quite rare.

Thread Specification Basics

M3 fine thread machine screws come with multiple specifications: nominal size, tap drill size, thread pitch and thread height. The tap drill size is that of the bit used to drill a hole for the fastener prior to cutting the thread in that hole. Thread pitch is the angle between one surface of a single thread and the other surface, measured in degrees from the very ridge of the thread. Thread height is the distance between the very bottom (root) of the thread and the very top (crest).

Nominal Diameter

Nominal diameter is the diameter for which a fastener is named. The metric system for naming fasteners is very straightforward -- an M3 fastener has a nominal diameter is 3mm. The tap drill size for an M3 fastener is 2.5mm for a coarse thread and 2.6mm for a fine thread.

Thread Pitch

ANSI threads are specified in threads per inch, but metric threads are specified by the distance in millimetres between each thread. The type of 3mm metric thread commonly designated "fine" and often used in computer cases and similar applications is actually a metric "coarse" thread. The metric coarse thread for M3 fasteners is 0.5mm (1/2 mm between each thread). The metric fine thread for M3 fasteners is 0.35mm. Thus, a M3 fine thread would receive the designation "M3x0.35."

Thread Diameter and Other Specifications

In an "M3x0.35" screw, the pitch diameter is 2.773; the minor diameter of the internal thread is 2.621mm; the minor diameter of the external thread is 2.571mm; the thread height is 0.215mm; the thread overlap is 0.189mm; the angle of the thread is 60 degrees; and the root radius is 0.051mm.

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